Taobao, China’s largest social commerce platform, launched a new rating system that rewards outstanding young creators and small businesses with greater market exposure by spotlighting their creativity and making their products more accessible to over 840 million China retail marketplaces users.
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This launch coincides with the fifth anniversary of Taobao Maker Festival (TMF).
Started in 2016, TMF is Taobao’s signature event and this year it will take on a fresh approach that combines virtual exhibition together with a merchant road trip to engage with local fan communities in four cities – Hangzhou, Xi’an, Chengdu, and Wuhan.
Taobao has upgraded the popular TMF awards into a rating system that will provide year-long brand exposure and marketing resources to China’s most talented and entrepreneurial young minds.
An independent panel of judges comprised of industry experts will review and rate all the TMF merchants that have participated over the past five years. The four-tiered rating system will reward digital badges to approximately 200 merchants.
Products from the rated merchants will be included in the personalized product recommendation feature “Good Find” section on Taobao, which will significantly boost their profile and visibility to consumers.
“The new rating system promotes and celebrates originality and creativity. It will enable merchants to leverage their participation in the Taobao Maker Festival into a source of year-round benefit for growing their business and customers. This is an initiative driven by our longstanding goal of helping small businesses and young makers to achieve their dreams and find success,” said Chris Tung, Chief Marketing Officer of Alibaba Group.
The new strategy helped Taobao to transform from a transactional-driven e-commerce marketplace into a multi-dimensional social commerce platform that allows users to enjoy a wide range of content to drive sales efficiency and customer stickiness. Other flagship tools benefiting from the strategy include Taobao Live, Weitao (a social media platform on Taobao), short-form video, microblogs and the curated recommendation channel “Good Find.”
As a result of the strategy, Taobao has seen a major boost in the number of creative merchants, which now counts more than 200,000, representing a 200% growth from 2018.
Kaifu Zhang, Head of Taobao Operations, emphasized Taobao’s commitment to fostering China’s next generation of makers and merchants through content creation. “We continue to leverage our unique content-driven strength to help young entrepreneurs and small businesses win market traction and bringing better experience to consumers.”
Focusing on the positive impact of “New Blood,” TMF is making an innovation this year. For four days starting August 10, Taobao will launch its online exhibition, supported by Taobao Life, a 3D avatar-based virtual world. Taobao users can visit a six-themed online pavilion using their own unique avatar, interacting with the virtual figures of celebrities.
Another first this year is that TMF visitors do not need to come to the carnival. Instead, the carnival will come to them. The merchants will be out and about meeting TMF fans while on road trip to four cities: Hangzhou, Chengdu, Xi’an and Wuhan.
During the 20-day road trip, which starts in Hangzhou, a large truck will be converted into mobile storefronts to allow dozens of merchants to display their products in each city. At each stop, Taobao and selected makers will also hold mini offline events that draw on each city’s unique culture and heritage.
10 Things You Need to Know about Taobao
1. You can find everything on Taobao
Taobao provides hundreds of millions of products and services, everything from mainstream and niche products to virtual goods and local services. Anything you need, you can find it on Taobao.
2. A personalized shopping experience
Each person has their own Taobao. Mobile Taobao curates a personalized and unique feed of product and content recommendations based on individual user interests and
preferences, all powered by Alibaba Group’s robust AI technologies.
3. A community for youth creativity
This is a marketplace for the young generation. In 2019, Taobao’s data revealed that the number of transactions by people aged between 20 – 29 increased by 2.7 billion times year- over-year. This is equivalent to every customer making 10 times more purchases on average. Also, consumers born in the ‘90s surpassed those born in the ’80s and now
represent the majority of users on Taobao.
4. More than a shopping platform
Taobao is also a virtual community that provides leisure, entertainment and interactive experiences. Internet celebrities and merchants can interact with consumers through livestreaming, short videos and Weitao (Taobao’s own social app), or they can make recommendations based on customer demand. Consumers can learn about products and new trends, for example, by watching Taobao Live and playing games within Taobao Life.
5. Livestreaming takes off on Taobao
Three interesting facts: (i) When Tianwen-1, China’s first independent interplanetary mission, was launched for Mars, Taobao Live booked a whole cinema to livestream the event.
(ii) The Versailles Palace and the British Museum have joined Taobao Live to
conduct livestreaming sessions on the platform.
(iii) On the evening of July 15 2020, 100,000 broadcasters and merchants participated in a one-hour charity livestreaming campaign to support farmers in rural areas, selling out agricultural products from 52 poverty-stricken counties. Now livestreaming has not only become a trend in China, but also a new way to connect individuals around the world. In 2019, Taobao Live created 1.73 million employment opportunities in China.
6. Revitalizing traditional culture
On Taobao, products that feature elements of traditional Chinese culture have grown in popularity. In 2019, tens of millions of young people searched for products related to the Forbidden City on Taobao, and the search volume for ‘hanfu’ (traditional Han-style clothing) doubled.
The 2019 Taobao Maker Festival showcased a haute couture hanfu priced at RMB 100,000. Meanwhile, China’s time-honored brands also tapped the platform to reconnect with a younger consumer base. White Rabbit, a household milk candy brand in China, rolled out a crossover lip balm collection that enjoyed incredibly strong sales in 2018 and 2019. Its co-branded perfume sold out within three seconds after launch.
7. Supporting entrepreneurs
As one of the largest innovative entrepreneurship platforms in China, Taobao has actively helped to incubate new ideas and original creations in Chinese society. The openness of Taobao has attracted a huge number of individual sellers and small sized businesses, encouraging young people to open an online store for free to sell their innovative products.
Taobao Maker Festival was started in 2016 as a platform to showcase innovative merchants and their original products to the public.
8. Promoting trust in society
Alipay, a third-party payment service platform, was launched on the heels of Taobao. The platform allows buyers to confirm the receipt of goods before paying the merchants, ensuring a safe transaction. With its huge user base, Taobao is helping to raise the standard of trust across society.
9. Helping to assist poverty alleviation
From opening a Taobao store to becoming a farmer broadcaster – these are the extraordinary stories of Taobao merchants. The Internet has helped to create a variety of new job opportunities for people living in rural areas across China, encouraging young people to return to their villages and drive growth in their local economies.
Over the past two and a half years, Alibaba‘s poverty alleviation initiatives have helped nearly 10 million people from China’s impoverished areas.
10. An accessible shopping environment for people with a disability
“For the visually impaired in China, the same mantra rings true: ‘as long as you have a phone you can use Taobao.’” In 2011, Taobao established its barrier-free information laboratory to provide a barrier-free shopping environment for people with a disability. To date, nearly 300,000 visually-impaired people are active daily users on Taobao and across the Alibaba ecosystem.
Taobao Marketplace is China’s largest mobile commerce destination in terms of GMV for the 12 months ended 31st March, 2020, according to Analysys, with a large and growing social community.